October 2012 marks the half-way point for the term of Milton’s Town Council. Discover Milton (D.M.) recently had a chance to chat with Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett about how life is going for him in his first term. We covered a variety of topics about Milton and even learned a thing or two we didn’t already know about him.
Cluett is a Brampton native, and married with two kids. His family moved to Milton in 2003, and he has always been involved on various committees before running for office in the October 2010 election. He is a first term councillor representing ward six, one of the newly created wards. Ward 6 has boundaries of Thompson Rd (West), Fourth Line (East), Derry Rd (North), and Britannia Rd (South).
M.C.: “The biggest challenge so far since being elected is doing my best to maintain a good work-life balance. The position of councillor is part time and many of us have full time jobs/businesses and it’s difficult to keep the balance with everything that’s going on. The key is having a very supportive family, which I am very lucky to have.”
D.M: What’s been your biggest political challenge?
M.C.: “Communication with the residents in my ward & in the Town of Milton has been the biggest challenge. During election campaigns I find that people get engaged in the process and are aware of issues. Unfortunately in between election campaigns it becomes more difficult to engage residents in discussions regarding tax increases, government spending, and what services to increase/decrease. I have been working hard utilizing social media (Twitter/Facebook) to try to engage residents in these discussions and get them involved in the process. I have always believed that you shouldn’t just see your elected officials during election time. It’s what’s done in between the campaign that matters.”
Meeting Milton residents is Cluett’s favourite part of the job. “It’s great to meet new people all the time who are just as passionate about Milton as I am.” Cluett meets a lot of people at community events including the recent Cruisen on a Hot Summer Night.
His least favourite part of the job is when residents come to him with a problem and he can’t do anything about it. “Sometimes it’s the responsibility of another level of government,” he said. Besides attending events, Cluett takes time to regularly canvass his ward. He recalls one resident handing him a jar of garlic pickles following a conversation on traffic calming and cell phone towers.
“They were awesome, and I’ll be sure to go back there door-knocking again soon too,” he said.
D.M.: How would you evaluate the Council’s progress so far?
M.C.: “The voters will decide how well we are progressing at election time. I think this council is doing an OK job but in reference to tax levels, communications, and focus I would rank us as “needs improvement.” We can always do better.”
Cluett feels Council’s biggest challenge is to balance the town’s needs against the continued growth and keeping voters informed on various projects due to start before the end of this term.
“There are a lot of road projects that will be started before the end of next term such as the Main Street expansion, Derry Road underpass, Tremaine Road widening as well Steeles expansion.” Cluett continued adding the key to it all would be to keep the voters informed.
The future could see him with a new position with Milton Council following the next municipal election. He has recently announced his intention to run for Regional Council wards 1,6,7,8.
“Milton has only 3 councillors at the Region and each representative there needs to be focused, knowledgeable and a strong communicator,” he said. He made the decision after speaking with voters and hearing their frustration.
“There are many things happening now that will have an effect on the quality of life in Milton, and we can’t afford to take chances on who represents us.”
D.M.: How do you feel social networking (Twitter, Facebook) helps politicians?
M.C.: “It helps connect you to the voters. It’s become such an integral part of our life, when something happens many people jump online, or check Facebook & Twitter for information. The important part of social media is to engage people in conversations. Anyone can use it to spout off campaign platforms or messages of the day. It’s key to have direct interaction with people through conversation and if used properly can help increase voter turnout.”
Turnout for the 2010 municipal election was approximately 32.6%.
D.M.: Where did the nickname “The Mouth of Milton “come from? How did Ann’s megaphone come about?
M.C.: “I have been privileged to know the Tiger Jeet Singh family and Troy Newton (Troy’s Diner) and to help out as much as I can with their charity causes like Tigerfest and Troy’s Toy Drive. We were sitting in the diner one day when someone suggested I get a megaphone for the event (even though many would say I don’t need one) where Troy blurted out “The Mouth of Milton” in reference to “The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart” in the old days of wrestling. In promoting last year’s Milton Tiger fest, I even recorded a video pro wrestling style as the Mouth of Milton. The name just stuck.”
Cluett even had a megaphone painted like a mouth by local artist Ann Kornuta. The name is oddly fitting, as Cluett is a former Disc Jockey (D.J.), and emcee for dances and weddings.